There are so many food events going on during the summer in San Francisco, but one of my favorites is La Cocina’s Street Food Festival happening this weekend. It begins with the 2nd annual Night Market this Friday at the Alemany Farmer’s Market, and the main street food festival takes place on Saturday, August 17 from 11 a.m until 7p.m. It will be huge, spread out over several blocks in the sunny Mission district on Folsom St. from 20th to 26th, 21st and 25th from Treat St. to Shotwell St., including the Cesar Chavez Elementary School parking lot, Parque de los Ninos Unidos and Jose Coronada Playground (click here for a map and more info). There will be more than 70 businesses selling food to over 80,000 hungry people, featuring the La Cocina program participants, but also many local food trucks as well as restaurants setting up food booths and there will be live music. Check out the supercool website here which has menus and information for each vendor, and click here for La Cocina’s strategy guide for a successful time at the festival. You must download their app a handy dandy tool with a map, a menu, and other super useful information such as a list of vendors and what intersection they will be located at. Wow, right?
La Cocina works with local aspiring entrepreneurs, primarily chefs from immigrant communities, to create sustainable businesses that benefit themselves, their families, their community and the city as a whole. They help to break down the barriers to starting a food business by providing access to industry specific resources, affordable kitchen space, and additional market and capital opportunities. I love this picture depicting what goes on in their Kitchen Incubator.
Last month I went to a media preview in Fort Mason which is an awesome opportunity to meet some of the participants in the program in a casual setting where you can chat with them as well as sample some of the dishes they will be serving at the festival.
Festive cocktails called Whiskey Smash made with Wild Turkey bourbon and Highland Heat made with Espolon Tequila and glasses of wine were being served by Rye Saloon of San Francisco.
Just a warning, this is a long post with lots of pictures! Now, onto the food. Binita Pradhan serves traditional Nepalese dumplings (momo) from Bini’s Kitchen, topped with spicy tomato cilantro sauce.
We tried one of each filling, turkey or tofu veggie, the sauce was spicy and flavorful and made my lips tingle deliciously. I wanted to eat more of these, but had to member to save room..
Chef Luis Vasquez is a 5th generation Yucatecan breadmaker shown here with his wife Maria de la Luz. His family-run business Chaac Mool serves regional Mexican, indigenous and Pre-Hispanic cuisine and is known for his cochinita pibl, a slow-roasted pork dish that is used to fill tacos and tortas, gorditas and sopes. Vegetarian options include nopales and beans.
They served Polcanes (translates to snakehead) which is an oval pocket in a shape reminiscent of a snake’s head made of masa, filled with savory pork or cactus salad and topped with red salsa, pickled onion and queso fresco.
Throughout the evening we enjoyed a variety of mellow acoustic music.
Constanza Ortiz of Maite Catering, offers authentic bite sized treats from Columbia
We sampled the Small Bite item: Arepa de Choclo, grilled fresh ground corn topped with cotija cheese. So full of fresh corn flavor that was excellent with the pungent cheese. Their big bite item will be Arepa Rellena, grilled corn cake filled with chicken, mushroom and smoked aioli.
This is Olive Loew founder of Saint & Olive, who makes sweet and savory biscotti based on her great aunt’s prized family recipe. She was serving handmade cannoli
One was chocolate dipped, and I chose the pumpkin spice one which was a lovely treat! She said she would be helping out at the Jarred booth on Saturday.
I loved the crazy display by Tiffany and Sylvee Esquivel of Hella Vegan Eats
who were serving Mini Donutburger Supreme, a succulent beet burger served inside of two moist and sugary vegan donuts.
Dilsa of Los Cilantros Catering, will be serving Elotes, roasted corn topped with mayonnaise and cotija cheese for their small bite item.
This is the Seabass Ceviche Clasico, marinated in lime juice, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, serranos and avocado, served with chips, which will be their big bite item.
Endless Summer Sweets will serve Funnel Cake with powdered sugar, but only had the topping of fresh strawberries and a
dollop of homemade whipped cream. Their smaller bite will be bags of kettle corn.
Zellas Soulful Kitchen‘s Buffalo Blue Chicken Slider, crispy fried chicken breast dipped in house-made buffalo sauce and topped with crunchy blue cheese slaw served on French Hero Roll (this was a smaller scale version for the preview).
Azalina’s sweet potato dumpling, filled with roasted coconut and lemongrass, ramp and coconut aioli, with a caution that it is a tad spicy!
Lupe Guerrero of El Pipila served delicious Sopes which are shoe shaped masa crusts filled with nogales (cactus), or picadillo (spicy ground beef with olives, raisins and vegetables)
Elva Buendia’s La Luna Cupcakes, had platters filled with your choice of chocolate or lemon mini cupcakes.
D’Maize Catering serving authentic Salvadorean food is very pleased to meet you!
They will be serving Chicken skewers marinated in abuelita’s blend of Salvadoran spices on Saturday, we sampled the small bite of Pupusas. Corn masa filled with either chicharron (pork), frijole con queso (bean and cheese), or espinaca con queso (spinach and cheese) topped with piquant curtido salad
Tamales from Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, filled with either pork, chicken and Oaxacan cheese with chili strips topped with green and red sauces. Here is Alicia, such a marvelous spirit, she made sure that everyone enjoyed her delicious tamales!
Her tamales are tender and succulent and full of savory fillings that just ooze with tamale love, the sauces are fantastic, one made with roasted chilies and the other with avocado and cilantro.
Sal de Vida offers special culinary finishing salts, and served a very delicious black bean soup. Their display offered an impressive array of flavored sea salts that you could sample, Mr. K liked the habanero salt! They also have packaged mixes for rice dishes, soups and spreads
Later in the evening, Caleb Zigas the Executive Director of La Cocina, gave a rousing speech and introduced many of the program participants to a very enthusiastic audience.
There was an outside area with ping pong tables, picnic tables, and even more food and booze to sample.
Chiefo’s Kitchen is a woman-owned and operated business run by chef Chiefo Chukwudebe who has been busy introducing the Bay Area to the flavors of her native Nigeria. She was walking around serving Roasted plantain bread pudding. Chiefo’s is skipping this year’s festival, but focusing on bringing goat pepper stew, bread pudding, and hibiscus and rum cocktails to the night market.
We enjoyed samples of her tasty hibiscus and rum cocktail.
One of busiest booths was Sugarfoot Grits, which was founded last year by Stephanie Fields the self-proclaimed grits queen of SF.
One of our favorite dishes of the evening was her super rich and cheesy grits made from Anson Mills, topped with bacon and a dollop of hot sauce. YUM!
I’ll always have room for Onigilly, which is how the Japanese pronounce the ubiquitous riceball called onigiri. They have made the portions a more reasonable size and even had a version without rice! I sampled one with roasted eggplant and another one with spicy kimchi which were fabulous.
Another unexpected offering was from Anda’s Piroshki which had delectable little bites that they insisted were best enjoyed with a tiny shot of vodka.
My favorite were slices of potato topped with beets, marinated herring, sliced fruit and a bit of dill.
The vegetarian offering was sliced bread, topped with cheese, pickled tomato, parsley and red bell pepper.
Chef Guisell from Sabores del sur served flaky empanadas filled with spicy ground beef, chopped onion, a quarter of boiled egg, 2 raisins and 1 olive. A pleasure bomb that I hope to see at the Night Market.
Are you feeling hungry yet? I can’t wait! I’m really looking forward to checking out the Night Market on Friday, here’s a guide on SF Station. The Night Market, is a fundraiser for La Cocina and will be held at the Alemany Farmers’ Market from 4pm–9pm.
La Cocina’s Night Market
- 6 outdoor markets, representing regions all over the world
- Food by celebrity chefs & La Cocina businesses
- 6 beer gardens from Whole Foods Market’s Steep Brew program
- 6 craft cocktail bars from Rye on the Road
- Bar games: Berlin style ping-pong, cornhole, karaoke, and more
- Live music: mariachis, belly dancers, bluegrass, and more
- Free shuttles
- All for charity
The event is a benefit for La Cocina’s incubator program, and tickets are $35, plus the additional cost of food. There will be a free shuttle leaving Mission Pie (2901 Mission St. at 25th St.), or you can purchase a parking pass. Don’t forget to dress in layers as it can get chilly out there. 100 Alemany Blvd. at Peralta. Map.